Canada’s Military Not Ready to Defend Against Terrorists

Canada’s Senate defense committee reports that the country’s armed forces are woefully underfunded and totally unprepared to defend the country against the inevitable terrorist attack.

Report: Canada’s military can’t meet needs (AP)

Canada’s military is “wounded” and the country’s defense without the money to do its job properly, according to a Senate report released Thursday. The report laments the lack of resources and coordinated manpower to deal with a terrorist attack or natural disaster. “A hard, honest look at the facts has made it clear to the committee that the funding is simply not there to end Canada’s sad era of military darkness,” said the review of defense policy by the Senate Standing committee on National Security and Defense.

The report notes that of the C$12.8 billion (US$10.9 billion) the government promised over the next five years to beef up the Canadian Forces, only C$1.1 billion ($938 million) was earmarked for the first two years. This means the rehabilitation process won’t get started until 2008-2009. “Even when the process does stutter to a start, it will remain vastly underfunded, primarily because the armed forces have been starved for money for so many years,” reads an executive summary by committee chairman, Liberal Party Senator Colin Kenny.

The report notes Canada — named by al Qaeda as one of five target nations deserving of an attack — has done little since 9/11 to invest in anti-terrorism prevention. “Canada has an unenviable place on Osama bin Laden’s infamous list of countries to be targeted. We may get lucky. But it’s not a bet you’d want to make. “Despite the increasing complacency of most Canadians as the memory of 9/11 slips to the back of our minds, there is every likelihood that an attack will eventually occur on Canadian soil,” the report said, yet noted that Canada ranks just 128th out of 165 countries in defense spending as a percentage of its gross domestic product.

Truly a shame. The Canadian Forces are well trained and professional but they operate in a political culture even more tepid on national defense than that which pervades Western Europe. They have the good fortune, however, of bordering a superpower that happens to be their strongest ally and trading partner.


crossposted to sda

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. DC Loser says:

    If Canada were truly to be able to defend against a terrorist attack on home soil, the Canadian Forces would not be my choice for giving money to. I’d be putting more money on CSIS (Canadian Security and Intelligence Service), and the RCMP.

  2. RJN says:

    We should start making serious, and broadly based, overtures toward absorbing Canada into the U.S.

    We would probably get some immediate support for the idea from some of the provinces, particularly in the west. It is a lovely thought; more wide open spaces, more purple mountains majesty, less liberal b.s. from Ottawa.

  3. DC Loser says:

    I think while some in the Western provinces like Alberta might momentarily entertain such a fantasy, 99% of the Canadian population wouldn’t agree. I think many in the US misunderstand Canadian nationalism and pride vs. the American goliath to their south. They take special pride in being Canadian, and don’t want to be just another American state. And they really do like being a part of the British Commonweath, and having the Queen’s head on their currency, et al. Don’t forget that’s why many of them went to Canada after being on the losing side of the Revolutionary War.

  4. anjin-san says:

    … and we showed everyone how to deal with a disaster with our swift and effective government response to Katrina.

  5. DC Loser says:

    I’ve worked closely with quite a few Canadian military and defence personnel over the years and have nothing but the utmost respect for their professionalism. They don’t have a lot of toys, but they make do with what they have.